The Brothers of Christ
- 1 The Brothers of Christ
- 2 Perpetual Virginity of Mary
- 3 Appendix
- 3.1 Appendix 1, Helvidius and Jerome on Adelphos
- 3.2 Appendix 2, Helvidius and Jerome on Matthew 1:25
- 3.3 Appendix 3, Helvidius and Jerome on Mary the mother of Jesus being Mary the mother of James the less
- 3.4 Appendix, Jerome's treatise
- 3.5 Appendix, Aquinas's proof
- 3.6 Appendix, historical belief FOR Perpetual Virginity of Mary
- 3.6.1 ~145 AD: Protoevangelium of James
- 3.6.2 248 AD: Origen
- 3.6.3 354 AD: Hilary of Poitiers
- 3.6.4 360 AD: Athanasius
- 3.6.5 373 AD: Ephrem
- 3.6.6 ~375 AD: Basil of Caesarea
- 3.6.7 375 AD: Epiphanius
- 3.6.8 383 AD: Jerome
- 3.6.9 386 AD: Didymus the Blind
- 3.6.10 388 AD: Ambrose of Milan
- 3.6.11 401 AD: Augustine
- 3.6.12 426 AD: Leporius
- 3.6.13 430 AD: Cyril of Alexandria
- 3.6.14 ~440 AD: Peter Chrysologus
- 3.6.15 450 AD: Pope Leo I
- 3.6.16 553 AD: Second Council of Constantinople
- 3.6.17 649 AD: Lateran Council
- 3.6.18 749 AD: John Damascene
- 3.6.19 ~1270 AD: Thomas Aquinas
- 3.6.20 1522 AD: Zwingli, Protestant
- 3.6.21 1539 AD: Martin Luther, Protestant
- 3.6.22 1562 AD: John Calvin, Protestant
- 3.6.23 1749 AD: John Wesley, Protestant
- 3.7 Appendix, historical belief AGAINST Perpetual Virginity of Mary
- 4 References
The Brothers of Christ
Evangelical Pastor: Several scriptures mention the brothers & sisters of Christ (Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55, John 7:3-5, John 2:12, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5, Galatians 1:19).
A plain reading of these texts indicates they are Jesus' brothers, born of Mary.
Catholic Priest: The word your Bible translation renders as "brothers" in those passages is the greek word "adelphos". This word is more general in meaning than simply brothers, and can simply refer to familial relations like cousins.
Evangelical Pastor: Not so.
An exact greek word for cousins exists (anepsios). This word is used 1 time in the New Testament - but it was not used here. (Colossians)
Likewise, a word for kinsman/relative exists (suggenes). This word is used 12 times in the New Testament, but is not used here. (Luke, Acts, Romans, and once in Mark and John)
Catholic Priest: To determine what the New Testament authors meant by the Greek word 'adelphos', you are solely comparing it with the Greek New Testament. That is insufficient - we have other texts to refer to.
A few hundred years before Christ, a Greek translation of the Old Testament was made, called the Septuagint.
This translation became widespread and popular, and is indeed the translation the New Testament authors and Christ himself used.
Evangelical Pastor: How do you know that?
Catholic Priest: The New Testament was written in Greek, and was the main language of the area at that time - it's thus natural for them to use the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint).
We know they did, for many of their quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament come directly from the Septuagint - and the same verse in the Masoretic Text is rendered differently. Here are some examples:
In Matthew 21:16, Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2 saying "Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have ordained praise". In the Septuagint translation, Psalm 8:2 also says "ordained praise". However the Hebrew Scriptures (Masoretic Text) says "ordained strength".
1 Peter 4:18 quotes the Septuagint Proverbs 11:31 as "If the truly righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?". The Hebrew says, "If the righteous is repaid on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!"
Hebrews 11:21 quotes the Septuagint Genesis 47:31 with Jacob bowing in worship over the head of his staff, while the Hebrew has Jacob bowing over the head of his bed.
Hebrews 10:5-7 quotes the Septuagint Psalm 40:6-8 as "a body have you prepared for me", while the Hebrew reads as "you have given me an open ear".
Acts 13:41 quotes the Septuagint Habakkuk 1:5 starting with "Look, you scoffers", while the Hebrew starts with "Look among the nations".
Acts 7:42-43 quotes the Septuagint Amos 5:25-27 as "You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan", while the Hebrew reads as "You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god".
Acts 8:32-33 quotes the Septuagint Isaiah 53:7-8 as "In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.", while the Hebrew reads as "By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living".
James 4:6 quotes the Septuagint Proverbs 3:34 as "opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble", while the Hebrew reads similarly but with different underlying word-concepts as "scorns the scornful but he gives grace to the lowly".
In the book "Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament: A Complete Survey" (pages 25-32), by Protestant authors G. Archer and G. C. Chirichigno, we see that of the 386 times that the New Testament explicitly quotes from the Old Testament, 340 of those are from the Septuagint translation.
Evangelical Pastor: Ok, I grant you the New Testament authors used the Septuagint. What's that got to do with this?
Catholic Priest: Your interpretation of the word 'adelphos' was solely based off the New Testament usage of the word. Since we now know that Christ and the New Testament authors used the Septuagint's Greek translation of the Old Testament, we can now also look within that text to see how 'adelphos' was used within it.
In the Septuagint, Genesis 14:14 and Genesis 29:15 use 'adelphos' to mean relative, 2 Samuel 1:26 and 1 Kings 9:13 use 'adelphos' to mean close friends, and Amos 1:9 uses 'adelphos' to mean allies. Clearly then the word adelphos mean something more broad to the New Testament authors, and doesn't necessarily mean blood brothers.
This argument is not new. Helvidius first brought up your interpretation of these scriptures around 383 AD, which prompted Jerome's response to him that same year (Appendix 1).
Many years later, the fathers of the Reformation also disagreed with Helvidius' interpretation, siding with Jerome.
Martin Luther (in his Sermons on John, Chapters 1-4) said, "I am inclined to agree with those who declare that 'brothers' really mean 'cousins' here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers."
John Calvin (in his commentary on John 7:3) said, "Under the word 'brethren' [adelphos] the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity."
Evangelical Pastor: You claim the word 'adelphos' is ambiguous - but we have a reference in Scripture to Jesus' brothers that is unambiguous, and cannot mean anything else.
Psalm 69 is a messianic psalm about Jesus. Psalm 69:4 is quoted in John 15:25 as pointing to Jesus, and Psalm 69:9 is quoted in John 2:17 as pointing to Jesus.
Therefore Psalm 69:8 must also be pointing to Jesus, which says "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children." In this passage, "my mother's children" is clear and must be referring to other children of Mary. 
Catholic Priest: Following that logic, Psalm 69:5 must also refer to Jesus, which says "O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.".
But that's nonsense, as Christ is sinless. Therefore your logic must be flawed.
The flaw in this argument is a misunderstanding of what Messianic Psalms are.
Messianic psalms blend the present concerns of the Psalmist with foreshadowing of Christ.
Not every element of a Messianic Psalm need be true of Jesus.
Behold, your mother
Catholic Priest: Not only is there no explicit proof in the bible that the 'adelphos' of Christ are his blood brothers, but there's strong indicators they are not.
In John 19:26-27, Jesus is dying on the cross and he entrusts his mother Mary to his disciple John. If Mary had other sons, it seems strange and out of character that Jesus would have gone out of his way to disregard family ties and commit a grave dishonor to his brothers by entrusting his mother to another man.
Evangelical Pastor: Jesus’ brothers were not believers at first (John 7:5), and likely weren't present at Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus chose to entrust Mary to John, who was a believer and was present, rather than entrusting her to his unbelieving brothers. 
Lost at the temple
Catholic Priest: In Luke 2:41-51, when Jesus is 12 and goes to the temple in Jerusalem with his family, there is no mention of other children in his family.
Evangelical Pastor: Jesus' siblings were clearly younger than him - perhaps they were more than 12 years younger than him, or perhaps Luke just didn't deem it important to mention his siblings. The absence of them from that section of scripture doesn't prove anything.
Son(s) of Mary
Catholic Priest: Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is frequently referred to as the son of Mary, but his brothers (even in the same passage) are never referred to that way (Matthew 13:55, Mark 3:31-32, Mark 6:3, John 2:1-12, Jn 19:25-26, Acts 1:14).
Evangelical Pastor: Again not proof of anything. I'm sure even if they were called sons of Mary, you'd argue that they were sons of a different Mary.
Catholic Priest: Hahaha, funny you should mention that... That's exactly what I'm going to suggest.
Evangelical Pastor: ...And how do you figure that?
Catholic Priest: The brother named James is the key to figuring out who Jesus' brothers were.
There are numerous Jameses mentioned in the New Testament (Mark 6:3, Mark 15:40, and three in Luke 6:13-16).
Who do you think these are, are they all different Jameses?
Evangelical Pastor: It's probable they are five different Jameses, though there may be some overlap.
The first is James the brother of Jesus, as well as brother of Joseph, Judas, Simon, and some sisters (Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55). His brother Judas (also called Jude), wrote the book of Jude, and identified himself in relationship to his more famous brother James (Jude 1).
James did not believe in Jesus at first (John 7:3-5). However as time passed, James did come to believe in Christ, and was reckoned as an Apostle (Galatians 1:19). He wrote the New Testament Epistle of James, and became a leading figure in the church at Jerusalem - when the church met in a council to determine rules for Gentile Christians, James played a prominent role in the decision and laid down his judgment (Acts 15:12-13, 19-23).
Paul called James (along with Cephas and John) the pillars of the church (Galatians 2:7-9). Paul regularly went out of his way to show deference to James and sought his counsel (Acts 12:17, Acts 21:17-24, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Galatians 1:19).
Jerome (~393 AD), quoting Hegesippus (~180 AD), identifies James the brother of the Lord as James the Just, head of the Church at Jerusalem. 
According to the Jewish historian Josephus (~94 AD), James the brother of Jesus was stoned in Jerusalem, dying around 62 AD. 
The second is James, son of Zebedee, one of the 12 Apostles (Luke 6:13-16, Mark 3:16-19). He and his brother John (also an Apostle) were given the nicknames Sons of Thunder by Christ (Mark 3:16-19). His mother Salome was one of the women who followed Jesus, ministering to him, and was there when Jesus died (Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40, Mark 16:1).
James, his brother John, and Peter were part of the inner circle of Christ - the group of 3 Apostles with whom Jesus was especially close, that saw him transfigured on the mountain, and with whom Jesus shared his sorrow in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 17:1-2, Matthew 26:36-38).
James died by Herod's hand in the book of Acts (Acts 12:1-2) around 44 AD.
The third is James, son of Alphaeus, was also one of the 12 Apostles (Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:13-16, Acts 1:13). He is definitely distinct from James the son of Zebedee (the other Apostle named James). Nothing is known of him outside these lists of Apostles - he seems to disappear from the Bible and history.
The fourth is James, the father of the Apostle Judas (not Iscariot). There were two Apostles named Judas - one betrayed Jesus, the other did not. The one who was loyal to Jesus came to be known by others names: he is called "Judas (not Iscariot)" (John 14:22), "Thaddaeus" (Mark 3:16-19, Matthew 10:1-4), and Judas the son of James (Luke 6:13-16, Acts 1:13).
The fifth is James the Less, son of the "other Mary", and brother of Joseph/Joses (Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:56).
We know he is different than James the son of Zebedee, for Matthew identifies the mother of the sons of Zebedee and Mary the mother of James and Joseph as two separate people (Matthew 27:56).
Mary, the mother of James the Less is identified as "Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses" (Mark 15:40), "Mary the mother of Joses" (Mark 15:47), "Mary the mother of James" (Mark 16:1, Luke 24:10), "Mary the mother of James and Joseph" (Matthew 27:56), "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary" (Matthew 27:61, 28:1). Note particularly that last one, where she is simply referred to as "the other Mary" while Christ appears to her in his resurrected body (Matthew 28:1-10).
Based on the way scripture identifies this Mary, it's unlikely this Mary is the same Mary as Mary the mother of Jesus. Thus, while both families have a mother named Mary and sons named James and Joseph, we must conclude that Mary the mother of James is different from Mary the mother of the Lord, and thus James the Less is different from James the brother of the Lord.
That is all we know about these Jameses from the Bible, and so all that can be said with certainty.
Catholic Priest: Well spoken. A few questions, if I may... what translation of the Bible are you using?
Evangelical Pastor: The ESV translation.
Catholic Priest: The fourth James you mentioned was James, the father of the Apostle Judas. This is based on the passages Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, which in your translation identify the Apostle as Judas the son of James. The King James Version (a Protestant translation from 1611) translates the same verse as Judas the brother of James. Why are they different, and which is correct?
Evangelical Pastor: The ESV is the more recent translation, and has more modern scholarship backing it up, so I'm going to assume it's correct and the KJV made a mistake.
Catholic Priest: Perhaps. And yet... the original Greek text of the Scripture simply says "Ioudas Iakōbou", or "Judas of James". This Judas is identified in relationship to his more well-known kin, James - but the exact relationship between them is unspecified. The most common meaning of this expression is that of father-son relationship, which is likely why the ESV took that route. And yet in Jude 1 the Bible clearly has another Judas who identifies himself in relationship to his near kin named James (a brother), which is likely why the KJV took that route. However it's clear the original text has neither the word "son" or "brother", and leaves both interpretations open as plausible, no?
Evangelical Pastor: Both are plausible perhaps, but "son" is far more probable.
Catholic Priest: The ESV does something similar in John 19:25. In this verse, the ESV reads it as "Mary the wife of Clopas", while the original Greek simply says "Mary of Clopas". The Greek leaves the exact relationship indeterminate, which is what caused Papias (~100 AD) and Jerome (~383 AD) to say of this verse "the one who is called by John the Evangelist 'Mary of Clopas,' whether after her father, or kindred, or for some other reason". If Jerome or Papias was reading the modern ESV translation, there is no way they could plausibly think that for "Mary the wife of Clopas", Clopas could be referring to something other than her husband's name.
Evangelical Pastor: Sure - let us assume I concede the point, that "Clopas" may or may not be her husband's name - I fail to see how that has any impact on this topic.
Catholic Priest: It's noteworthy that in both of these two instances, what the original text leaves more general and unspecified, the ESV has chosen one specific meaning. As we noted earlier, a similar thing occurred in passages like Mark 6:3 which speak of Jesus' 'adelphos'. As we showed, the word is more general, and can mean kin - but the ESV chose to translate it as the word 'brothers', which evokes a very specific relationship.
Evangelical Pastor: That may be so, but in all three of those examples, the ESV translation took the best and most likely meaning behind the general terms.
Catholic Priest: No argument there - my point is simply that what is a plausible reading in the original text is not a plausible reading in the ESV translation, because the ESV took some relationships that were general and made them specific. This should be particularly concerning for Protestants who believe that Scripture is the sole authority for doctrine, because they have to decide which is authoritative - the ESV translation with its specific family relationships, or the original text with its general family relationships?
If they treat the ESV as authoritative, then the idea that Mary had no other sons after Christ is unbiblical. If they treat the original text as authoritative, then I will argue the best they can do is say that the idea that Mary had no other sons after Christ is plausible, but unlikely - and certainly not unbiblical.
Evangelical Pastor: I grant the original text is authoritative, and not the ESV translation. You haven't convinced me yet that it's plausible Mary had no other sons after Christ. Who do you say Jesus' brothers were, if not his brothers? Give me a straight answer.
Catholic Priest: You're right, I was getting ahead of myself. To answer your question, I must first note there are several questions that arise as a result of your interpretation of the five Jameses of the New Testament.
1) Why was he called James the Less (Mark 15:40)? Such a title implies he was both well known enough to warrant a title, and his title implies only two Jameses (one greater, and one lesser).
2) The Apostle James the son of Zebedee died in Acts 12:1-2. A few verses later in Acts 12:17, Peter says to "Tell these things to James and to the brothers." He did not specify whether he meant James the son of Alphaeus, James the Lord's brother, or James the Less - implying there is only one other James besides the James the son of Zebedee. The same lack of clarification occurs throughout the New Testament (Acts 15:13, Acts 21:18, 1 Corinthians 15:7, Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:12, James 1:1, Jude 1:1) after the son of Zebedee dies.
3) Why does Mary, the mother of the Lord, have a sister named Mary (John 19:25)? Are we to assume that their parents had two daughters and named both Mary? Such a thing is never done (except in George Foreman's family).
4) Are we to assume it's mere coincidence that there are two separate families with a mother named Mary and brothers named James and Joseph, both intimately tied to Jesus (Matthew 13:55, Matthew 27:56)?
5) Is it another coincidence that Jude (the author of the Book of Jude) identifies himself in relationship to his brother James, and Judas (not Iscariot) the Apostle identifies himself in relationship to another James? Two people with the same name identifying theirselves in relationship to a James, but are separate people?
6) Why would Paul refer to James the Lord's brother as an Apostle (Galatians 1:19), if he was not one of the list of Apostles?
Your proposed explanation of the five Jameses do not sufficiently answer these questions.
Jerome gives a plausible Biblical reading that answers these five questions (and reduces them down to a single question). Perhaps have the C ask these questions, Prot respond, Cath give Jerome's answer to questions, Prot give the single question that remains, then Cath respond to that single question.
There is another plausible reading of the Bible that easily answers these questions. It appears in historical records as early as 100 AD, and is most clearly articulated by Jerome around 383 AD.
Why does Mary, the mother of the Lord, have a sister named Mary (John 19:25)? Are we to assume that their parents had two daughters and named both Mary? Such a thing is never done (except in George Foreman's family).
In John 19:25 we see that someone called Mary the wife of Clopas is noted as the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The word sister here is the Greek word adelphe, and as noted earlier can mean kin in general.
In his Church History (Book III) Church History Book 3, Chapter 11, Eusebius (a church historian around 323 AD), quotes an older Chronicler named Hegesippus who died in 180 AD, saying "For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph."
If Clopas was a brother of Joseph, and Mary of Clopas was an 'adelphe' to Mary mother of Jesus, then it is likely that 'adelphe' in this verse means 'sister-in-law'. Each Mary had a different set of parents, and thus this question is a non-issue (provided we accept adelphos has a broader meaning than mere blood-sister, and early church historians have weight).
Are we to assume it's mere coincidence that there are two separate families with a mother named Mary and brothers named James and Joseph, both intimately tied to Jesus (Matthew 13:55, Matthew 27:56)?
We have three gospel accounts that mention women looking on the cross as Jesus is crucified.
In Mark 15:40-16:8, we see a group of women looking on the cross from afar off, two of which are identified as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses. As the passage goes on, we see the "Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses" further described as "Mary the mother of Joses" (Mark 15:47), "Mary the mother of James" (Mark 16:1).
In Matthew 27:50-28:10, we see a group of women looking on the cross from a distance, and three of which are identified as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. As the passage goes on, we see the "Mary the mother of James and Joseph" referred to as simply "the other Mary" (Mark 15:61, 16:1).
In John 19:25-27, we see that there are three people named Mary standing by the cross: the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Clopas.
It is a very plausible reading that the woman standing near the cross that John calls "Mary of Clopas" is the woman looking on the cross whom Matthew and Mark call "Mary the mother of James and Joseph".
Read this way, and combining with our knowledge from the earlier question that Mary of Clopas is the sister-in-law of Jesus, that means Jesus had two cousins named James and Joseph.
Now let's look at Matthew 13:55, which says: "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?".
The word 'brothers' here is the Greek word "adelphos", which again as proven earlier can mean kin in general. Since we already know from above that Jesus has cousins named James and Joseph, it's very plausible this verse is just reading that Jesus had cousins named James and Joseph and Simon and Judas, all children of Mary of Clopas.
Thus to answer the question, Scripture does not mention two sets of brothers named James and Joseph, sons of Mary, that are close to Christ. Instead Scripture refers to a set of cousins Jesus had named James and Joseph and Simon and Judas, likely children of Mary of Clopas.
Why was he called James the Less (Mark 15:40)? Such a title implies he was both well known enough to warrant a title, and his title implies only two Jameses (one greater, and one lesser).
One plausible reading here is simply to accept he is called James the Less to distinguish him from James the Greater. By this interpretation, there are only two Jameses in Scripture, not five.
Both Jameses appear in the list of Apostles. One is the son of Zebedee, and one the son of Alphaeus. We know the son of Zebedee is part of the inner circle of Christ, viewing him the in transfiguration and praying with him in the garden (Matthew 17:1-2, Matthew 26:36-38) - thus that means James the Less is likely the same person as James the son of Alphaeus.
Note that this is the same position that John MacArthur (an influential evangelical pastor in the USA) holds - that James the Less and James the son of Alphaeus are the same James. 
Why would Paul refer to James the Lord's brother as an Apostle (Galatians 1:19), if he was not one of the list of Apostles?
James the less is Jesus' cousin, and is called James the son of Alphaeus in the list of Apostles. When Paul identifies the Lord's 'adelphos' as an Apostle, we don't need to do any hand-wavy thing to explain it away and say many leaders started being called Apostles in the early church.
Instead, we can just say Paul said exactly what he said. James the son of Alphaeus was also called James the Less, and was the 'adelphos' of Jesus.
The Apostle James the son of Zebedee died in Acts 12:1-2. A few verses later in Acts 12:17, Peter says to "Tell these things to James and to the brothers." He did not specify whether he meant James the son of Alphaeus, James the Lord's brother, or James the Less - implying there is only one other James besides the James the son of Zebedee. The same lack of clarification occurs throughout the New Testament (Acts 15:13, Acts 21:18, 1 Corinthians 15:7, Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:12, James 1:1, Jude 1:1) after the son of Zebedee dies.
With this two-James explanation, there is no question here, it just makes sense. After James the son of Zebedee died, there was only one James left in leadership in the early church, and thus no need to specify who he was.
Is it another coincidence that Jude (the author of the Book of Jude) identifies himself in relationship to his brother James, and Judas (not Iscariot) the Apostle identifies himself in relationship to another James? Two people with the same name identifying theirselves in relationship to a James, but are separate people?
The Apostle James the son of Alphaeus, also called James the Less, was a cousin to the Lord, and grew to be a renowned leader of the early church. From Mark 6:3 we see he had a brother called Judas. The book of Jude was written by a Jude (Judas) who identified himself in relationship to his more famous brother James.
In the list of Apostles (Luke 6:13-16), we see an Apostle Judas who also identified himself in relationship to his father James. Except... the relationship that you see in modern translations like the ESV is not there in Greek. The Greek literally just says "Jude of James" - it does not specify the exact relationship. It is reasonable to assume that generally that means a father/son relationship, though it could just as plausibly be a Jude that identifies himself in relationship to his more famous brother James. Indeed, the King James version of the Bible translates this Apostle's name this way, as "Judas the brother of James".
Thus both Judes are the same. The author of the book of Jude is the brother of James, and cousin of Jesus, and is one of the twelve Apostles (called Jude, Judas, or Thaddeus).
Additional Historical Evidence for this theory
James the adelphos of Christ and James the apostle both died the same way:
And James the son of Alphaeus, when preaching in Jerusalem, was stoned to death by the Jews, and was buried there beside the temple. - Pseudo-Hippolytus (~230 AD) in On the Twelve Apostles
So he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned - Josephus (~94 AD) in Antiquities of the Jews, Book XX, Chapter 9, Section 1
The Fragments of Papias, dating from around 100 AD, outline exactly what we'd expect from this theory:
Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph... James and Judas and Joseph were sons of an aunt of the Lord's... Mary, mother of James the Less and Joseph, wife of Alphaeus was the sister of Mary the mother of the Lord, whom John names of Cleophas, either from her father or from the family of the clan, or for some other reason. - Fragments of Papias, Section X [~ 100 AD]
Problems with this theory
James is called "the son of Alphaeus" in the list of Apostles. And yet, if he was the son of Mary the wife of Clopas, wouldn't that make him the son of Clopas?
There are several theories that plausibly explain this.
1) Mary is the wife of Alphaeus, note Clopas. The Greek text for her name simply says "Mary of Clopas", not "Mary the wife of Clopas". Most modern translations assume the relationship of wife. The title "of Clopas" could have been given to her after her father, or kindred, or for some other reason. This theory is articulated in the Fragment of Papias X from ~100 AD, and in Jerome's work Against Helvidius from around 383 AD.
2) The man could have had two names, Alphaeus and Clopas. As Jerome notes around 380 AD, this is not an uncommon occurrence in Scripture. Jerome gives numerous examples in his text Against Helvidius: "Raguel, Moses' father-in-law, is also called Jethro. Gedeon, without any apparent reason for the change, all at once becomes Jerubbaal. Ozias, king of Judah, has an alternative, Azarias. Mount Tabor is called Itabyrium. Again Hermon is called by the Phenicians Sanior, and by the Amorites Sanir. The same tract of country is known by three names, Negebh, Teman, and Darom in Ezekiel. Peter is also called Simon and Cephas. Judas the zealot in another Gospel is called Thaddaeus. And there are numerous other examples which the reader will be able to collect for himself from every part of Scripture."
3) The name Clopas may be a Greek transliteration of an Aramaic Alphaeus.
Perpetual Virginity of Mary
Catholic Priest: I also hold that Mary is a Perpetual Virgin. Scripture not only allows for it, but even supports it.
Ezekiel 44:1-2 is a messianic prophecy, which says, "Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east. And it was shut. And the Lord said to me, 'This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it. Therefore it shall remain shut.'"
Augustine's interpretation of this verse follows (from his De Annunt. Dom. iii, quoted in Aquina's Summa Theologica): "What means this closed gate in the house of the Lord, except that Mary is to be ever inviolate? What does it mean that ‘no man shall pass through it,’ save that Joseph shall not know her? And what is this - ‘The Lord alone enters in and goeth out by it,’ except that the Holy Ghost shall impregnate her, and that the Lord of Angels shall be born of her? And what means this - ‘It shall be shut for evermore,’ but that Mary is a Virgin before His birth, a Virgin in His birth, and a Virgin after His birth."
Jerome, in his Commentarium in Evangelium Lucae, PL 25, 430., says, "Some quite emphatically understand this closed gate through which only the Lord God of Israel passes … as the Virgin Mary, who remains a Virgin before and after childbirth. In fact, she remains always a Virgin, in the moment in which the Angel speaks with her and when the Son of God is born."
Ambrose, in his De institutione virginum 8.52, says, "Who is this gate (Ezekiel 44:1-4), if not Mary? Is it not closed because she is a virgin? Mary is the gate through which Christ entered this world, when He was brought forth in the virginal birth and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity."
Evangelical Pastor: That's reading that verse out of context. This vision of Ezekiel's is a prophecy of the restoration of the temple under Cyrus, which was fulfilled around 516 BC. The vision goes on to describe other gates and parts of the temple. There's no reason to read this prophecy into it.
Catholic Priest: Oh? Do you believe the New Testament authors were not inspired?
Isaiah 7:14 has the messianic prophecy, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." You accept this prophecy, and yet in the immediate context we can see this is a sign to king Ahaz of Judah, promising the king that God will destroy his enemies even before that child grows up (Isaiah 7:16).
And yet, in Matthew 1:22-23 we see the New Testament authors declaring this was a prophecy, and that it was fulfilled in Christ.
Almost every messianic prophecy is a context to something else.
Evangelical Pastor: Regardless, there's a New Testament verse that proves Mary did not remain a virgin after Jesus was born.
Matthew 1:24-25 says, "When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus."
In saying "knew her not until she had given birth to a son", this implies Mary and Joseph had customary marital relations after the birth of Jesus.
Catholic Priest: The word "until" is the Greek word heōs. It does not imply Mary and Joseph had customary marital relations after the birth of Jesus.
Jerome in 383 AD replies in depth to this argument, giving many examples in scripture where the proposed interpretation of the greek word heōs results in nonsense. Let's go over them.
Matthew 28:20 says, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto [heōs] the end of the world." Using your interpretation of the word heōs, this verse implies the Lord will forsake His disciples after the end of the world.
1 Corinthians 15:25 says, "For he must reign, till [heōs] he has put all enemies under his feet." Using your interpretation of the word heōs, this verse implies the Lord will reign only until His enemies begin to be under His feet, and once they are under His feet He will cease to reign.
Similar nonsense appears in the Septuagint for Isaiah 46:4, Psalm 123:2, 2 Samuel 6:23, Genesis 8:7, and Deuteronomy 34:6.
Thus, this Scripture still allows for the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.
John Calvin agrees. In his Works (Volume 31, Harmony of the Evangelists #25, page 107) he says, "And knew her not. This passage afforded the pretext for great disturbances, which were introduced into the Church, at a former period, by Helvidius. The inference he drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband. Jerome, on the other hand, earnestly and copiously defended Mary's perpetual virginity. Let us rest satisfied with this, that no just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words of the Evangelist, as to what took place after the birth of Christ... It is said that Joseph knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: but this is limited to that very time. What took place afterwards, the historian does not inform us. Such is well known to have been the practice of inspired writers. Certainly, no man will ever raise a question on this subject, except from curiosity; and no man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation."
Martin Luther goes even further. Not only does he agree, but he says the verse is proof FOR the perpetual virginity of Mary! In his book That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew he says, "The form of expression used by Matthew is the common idiom, as if I were to say, "Pharaoh believed not Moses, until he was drowned in the Red Sea." Here it does not follow that Pharaoh believed later, after he had drowned; on the contrary, it means that he never did believe. Similarly when Matthew [1:25] says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it means that he never did know her."
Evangelical Pastor: I didn't know Luther and Calvin thought that...
Early Protestantism vs. Modern Protestantism
Catholic Priest: Yes indeed. There's a striking difference between the Early Protestants and the Modern Protestants... a shift in authority, really.
With Sola Scriptura, scripture is the only ultimate authority. Thus the earlier reformers had no problem accepting the doctrine, because the Bible allowed for it, and other lesser authorities supported it (since it was an accepted church doctrine almost universally, the only exceptions being Tertullian ~200 AD and a handful of heretics in the mid/late 300s).
With "Solo" Scriptura, scripture is the only authority. This is what modern Protestantism has slid into, and is the difference between modern Protestants and the early Protestants. If Scripture doesn't explicitly teach the doctrine (and Catholics accept it), it's rejected out of hand - the historic beliefs on it do not matter and there is no concept of lesser authority. The anti-Catholic bias here I think is a big deal - modern Protestants accept other doctrines with less biblical support without issue (because Catholics don't) - e.g. infant dedication.
This doctrine of "Solo" Scriptura has several issues that did not affect early Protestants, but do affect modern ones. Here's one example:
Luke 6:15 in the ESV translation names the Apostle "James the son of Alphaeus" - thus the father of this family is Alphaeus.
Luke 6:16 in the ESV translation names the Apostle "Judas the son of James" - thus the father of this family is James.
John 19:25 in the ESV translation names "Mary the wife of Clopas" - thus the father of this family is Clopas.
Matthew 13:55 in the ESV translation names James, Joseph, Simon and Judas "brothers" of Jesus, who was the son of Mary, wife of Joseph - thus the father of this family is Joseph.
A plain reading of the above four scriptures thus clearly identifies four separate families - one of Alphaeus, one of James, one of Clopas, and one of Joseph.
But a completely different picture is portrayed when you look at the Greek text that the ESV translation is based off of!
Luke 6:15 in the original Greek names the Apostle "James of Alphaeus" - the exact relationship is left unspecified, but could be the name of his father.
Luke 6:16 in the original Greek names the Apostle "Judas of James" - the exact relationship is left unspecified. The ESV assumes the relationship is 'son' because that's a common meaning for this expression. The KJV assumes the relationship is 'brother' because that's been the historical understanding of this verse and elsewhere in Scripture we see a Judas identified in relationship to his more famous kin James (Jude 1:1). Both are plausible readings.
John 19:25 in the original Greek names "Mary of Clopas" - the exact relationship is left unspecified. This is what caused the Fragments of Papias around ~100 AD, and then Jerome around 383 AD, to say "the one who is called by John the Evangelist 'Mary of Clopas,' whether after her father, or kindred, or for some other reason".
Matthew 13:55 in the original Greek names James, Joseph, Simon and Judas "adelphos" of Jesus - which as proven early can be as broad in meaning as kin, leaving the exact relationship unspecified.
So while the ESV translation requires a reading of four separate families, the original Greek clearly leaves open the plausible reading that there is but one family: Alphaeus is the father of the Apostles James and Jude, who are sons of Mary of Clopas, and cousins of Christ.
Modern Protestants are limited by relying on a translation like the ESV solely for truth. Notable Early Protestants who believed in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary both had better understanding of the original languages, and were able to rely on historical church interpretation as a lesser authority.
Bible allows for it, and lesser authority supports it History belief (starting with formation of trinity doctrine), for and against
Appendix 1, Helvidius and Jerome on Adelphos
Quoted from Jerome's Against Helvidius, ~383 AD.
How then, says Helvidius, do you make out that they were called the Lord's brethren who were not his brethren? I will show how that is. In Holy Scripture there are four kinds of brethren--by nature, race, kindred, love. Instances of brethren by nature are Esau and Jacob, the twelve patriarchs, Andrew and Peter, James and John. As to race, all Jews are called brethren of one another, as in Deuteronomy, [Deuteronomy 15:12] "If thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee." And in the same book, [Deuteronomy 17:15] "Thou shalt in anywise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee; thou mayest not put a foreigner over thee, which is not thy brother." And again, [Deuteronomy 22:1] "Thou shalt not see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely bring them again unto thy brother. And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it home to thine house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again." And the Apostle Paul says, [Romans 9:3,4] "I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites." Moreover they are called brethren by kindred who are of one family, that is patria, which corresponds to the Latin paternitas, because from a single root a numerous progeny proceeds. In Genesis [Genesis 8:8,11] we read, "And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we are brethren." And again, "So Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east: and they separated each from his brother." Certainly Lot was not Abraham's brother, but the son of Abraham's brother Aram. For Terah begat Abraham and Nahor and Aram: and Aram begat Lot. Again we read, [Genesis 7:4] "And Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son." But if you still doubt whether a nephew can be called a son, let me give you an instance. [Genesis 14:14] "And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen." And after describing the night attack and the slaughter, he adds, "And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot." Let this suffice by way of proof of my assertion. But for fear you may make some cavilling objection, and wriggle out of your difficulty like a snake, I must bind you fast with the bonds of proof to stop your hissing and complaining, for I know you would like to say you have been overcome not so much by Scripture truth as by intricate arguments. Jacob, the son of Isaac and Rebecca, when in fear of his brother's treachery he had gone to Mesopotamia, drew nigh and rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the flocks of Laban, his mother's brother. [Genesis 29:11] "And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son." Here is an example of the rule already referred to, by which a nephew is called a brother. And again, [Genesis 29:15] "Laban said unto Jacob. Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? Tell me what shall thy wages be." And so, when, at the end of twenty years, without the knowledge of his father-in-law and accompanied by his wives and sons he was returning to his country, on Laban overtaking him in the mountain of Gilead and failing to find the idols which Rachel hid among the baggage, Jacob answered and said to Laban, [Genesis 31:36,37] "What is my trespass? What is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me? Whereas thou hast felt all about my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? Set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us two." Tell me who are those brothers of Jacob and Laban who were present there? Esau, Jacob's brother, was certainly not there, and Laban, the son of Bethuel, had no brothers although he had a sister Rebecca. Innumerable instances of the same kind are to be found in the sacred books. But, to be brief, I will return to the last of the four classes of brethren, those, namely, who are brethren by affection, and these again fall into two divisions, those of the spiritual and those of the general relationship. I say spiritual because all of us Christians are called brethren, as in the verse, [Psalm 133:1] "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." And in another psalm the Saviour says, [Psalm 22:22] "I will declare thy name unto my brethren." And elsewhere, [John 20:17] "Go unto my brethren and say to them." I say also general, because we are all children of one Father, there is a like bond of brotherhood between us all. [Isaiah 66:5] "Tell these who hate you," says the prophet, "ye are our brethren." And the Apostle writing to the Corinthians: [1 Corinthians 5:11] "If any man that is named brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one no, not to eat." I now ask to which class you consider the Lord's brethren in the Gospel must be assigned. They are brethren by nature, you say. But Scripture does not say so; it calls them neither sons of Mary, nor of Joseph. Shall we say they are brethren by race? But it is absurd to suppose that a few Jews were called His brethren when all Jews of the time might upon this principle have borne the title. Were they brethren by virtue of close intimacy and the union of heart and mind? If that were so, who were more truly His brethren than the apostles who received His private instruction and were called by Him His mother and His brethren? Again, if all men, as such, were His brethren, it would have been foolish to deliver a special message, "Behold, thy brethren seek thee," for all men alike were entitled to the name. The only alternative is to adopt the previous explanation and understand them to be called brethren in virtue of the bond of kindred, not of love and sympathy, nor by prerogative of race, nor yet by nature. Just as Lot was called Abraham's brother, and Jacob Laban's, just as the daughters of Zelophehad received a lot among their brethren, just as Abraham himself had to wife Sarah his sister, for he says, [Genesis 20:11] "She is indeed my sister, on the father's side, not on the mother's," that is to say, she was the daughter of his brother, not of his sister. Otherwise, what are we to say of Abraham, a just man, taking to wife the daughter of his own father? Scripture, in relating the history of the men of early times, does not outrage our ears by speaking of the enormity in express terms, but prefers to leave it to be inferred by the reader: and God afterwards gives to the prohibition the sanction of the law, and threatens, [Leviticus 18:9] "He who takes his sister, born of his father, or of his mother, and beholds her nakedness, hath commited abomination, he shall be utterly destroyed. He hath uncovered his sister's nakedness, he shall bear his sin." [...] It is clear that our Lord's brethren bore the name in the same way that Joseph was called his father: [Luke 1:18] "I and thy father sought thee sorrowing." It was His mother who said this, not the Jews. The Evangelist himself relates that His father and His mother were marvelling at the things which were spoken concerning Him, and there are similar passages which we have already quoted in which Joseph and Mary are called his parents. Seeing that you have been foolish enough to persuade yourself that the Greek manuscripts are corrupt, you will perhaps plead the diversity of readings. I therefore come to the Gospel of John, and there it is plainly written, [John 1:45] "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." You will certainly find this in your manuscript. Now tell me, how is Jesus the son of Joseph when it is clear that He was begotten of the Holy Ghost? Was Joseph His true father? Dull as you are, you will not venture to say that. Was he His reputed father? If so, let the same rule be applied to them when they are called brethren, that you apply to Joseph when he is called father.
Appendix 2, Helvidius and Jerome on Matthew 1:25
Quoted from Jerome's Against Helvidius, ~383 AD.
Helvidius (quoted by Jerome):
The passage for discussion now is, [Matthew 1:24,25] "And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife and knew her not till she had brought forth a son, and he called his name Jesus." [...] the adverb till implies a fixed and definite time, and when that is fulfilled, he says the event takes place which previously did not take place, as in the case before us, "and knew her not till she had brought forth a son." It is clear, says he, that she was known after she brought forth, and that that knowledge was only delayed by her engendering a son... Why could not Scripture say, as it said of Thamar and Judah, [Genesis 38:26] And he took his wife, and knew her again no more'? Could not Matthew find words to express his meaning? He knew her not,' he says, until she brought forth a son.' He did then, after her delivery, know her, whom he had refrained from knowing until she was delivered."
Our reply is briefly this,--the words knew and till in the language of Holy Scripture are capable of a double meaning. As to the former, he himself gave us a dissertation to show that it must be referred to sexual intercourse, and no one doubts that it is often used of the knowledge of the understanding, as, for instance, "the boy Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem, and his parents knew it not." Now we have to prove that just as in the one case he has followed the usage of Scripture, so with regard to the word till he is utterly refuted by the authority of the same Scripture, which often denotes by its use a fixed time (he himself told us so), frequently time without limitation, as when God by the mouth of the prophet says to certain persons, [Isaiah 46:4] "Even to old age I am he." Will He cease to be God when they have grown old? And the Saviour in the Gospel tells the Apostles, [Matthew 28:20] "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Will the Lord then after the end of the world has come forsake His disciples, and at the very time when seated on twelve thrones they are to judge the twelve tribes of Israel will they be bereft of the company of their Lord? Again Paul the Apostle writing to the Corinthians [1 Corinthians 15:23-25] says, "Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ's, at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." Granted that the passage relates to our Lord's human nature, we do not deny that the words are spoken of Him who endured the cross and is commanded to sit afterwards on the right hand. What does he mean then by saying, "for he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet"? Is the Lord to reign only until His enemies begin to be under His feet, and once they are under His feet will He cease to reign? Of course His reign will then commence in its fulness when His enemies begin to be under His feet. David also in the fourth Song of Ascents [Psalm 123:2] speaks thus, "Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look unto the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us." Will the prophet, then, look unto the Lord until he obtain mercy, and when mercy is obtained will he turn his eyes down to the ground? although elsewhere he says, [Psalm 119:123] "Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness." I could accumulate countless instances of this usage, and cover the verbosity of our assailant with a cloud of proofs; I shall, however, add only a few, and leave the reader to discover like ones for himself. The word of God says in Genesis, [Genesis 35:4, Septuagint] "And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem, and lost them until this day." Likewise at the end of Deuteronomy, [Deuteronomy 34:5-6] "So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in the valley, in the land of Moab over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day." We must certainly understand by this day the time of the composition of the history, whether you prefer the view that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch or that Ezra re-edited it. In either case I make no objection. The question now is whether the words unto this day are to be referred to the time of publishing or writing the books, and if so it is for him to show, now that so many years have rolled away since that day, that either the idols hidden beneath the oak have been found, or the grave of Moses discovered; for he obstinately maintains that what does not happen so long as the point of time indicated by until and unto has not been attained, begins to be when that point has been reached. He would do well to pay heed to the idiom of Holy Scripture, and understand with us, (it was here he stuck in the mud) that some things which might seem ambiguous if not expressed are plainly intimated, while others are left to the exercise of our intellect. For if, while the event was still fresh in memory and men were living who had seen Moses, it was possible for his grave to be unknown, much more may this be the case after the lapse of so many ages. And in the same way must we interpret what we are told concerning Joseph. The Evangelist pointed out a circumstance which might have given rise to some scandal, namely, that Mary was not known by her husband until she was delivered, and he did so that we might be the more certain that she from whom Joseph refrained while there was room to doubt the import of the vision was not known after her delivery. - Jerome, The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary: Against Helvidius
In response to the argument that it's natural for a married couple to have sex, so we should assume Mary/Joseph did... Jerome says this:
But as we do not deny what is written, so we do reject what is not written. We believe that God was born of the Virgin, because we read it. That Mary was married after she brought forth, we do not believe, because we do not read it. Nor do we say this to condemn marriage, for virginity itself is the fruit of marriage; but because when we are dealing with saints we must not judge rashly. If we adopt possibility as the standard of judgment, we might maintain that Joseph had several wives because Abraham had, and so had Jacob, and that the Lord's brethren were the issue of those wives, an invention which some hold with a rashness which springs from audacity not from piety.
Appendix 3, Helvidius and Jerome on Mary the mother of Jesus being Mary the mother of James the less
Quoted from Jerome's Against Helvidius, ~383 AD.
Helvidius (quoted by Jerome):
What a poor and impious view we take of Mary, if we hold that when other women were concerned about the burial of Jesus, she His mother was absent; or if we invent some kind of a second Mary; and all the more because the Gospel of S. John testifies that she was there present, when the Lord upon the cross commended her, as His mother and now a widow, to the care of John. Or must we suppose that the Evangelists were so far mistaken and so far mislead us as to call Mary the mother of those who were known to the Jews as brethren of Jesus?
What darkness, what raging madness rushing to its own destruction! You say that the mother of the Lord was present at the cross, you say that she was entrusted to the disciple John on account of her widowhood and solitary condition: as if upon your own showing, she had not four sons, and numerous daughters, with whose solace she might comfort herself? [...] In any case, if she (the latter) had been the Lord's mother S. John would have allowed her the title, as everywhere else, and would not by calling her the mother of other sons have given a wrong impression. But at this stage I do not wish to argue for or against the supposition that Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary the mother of James and Joses were different women, provided it is clearly understood that Mary the mother of James and Joses was not the same person as the Lord's mother.
Appendix, Jerome's treatise
Appendix, Aquinas's proof
Appendix, historical belief FOR Perpetual Virginity of Mary
-Discuss trinity, formation of doctrine not arising until challenged, same here-
~145 AD: Protoevangelium of James
Apocryphal New Testament book, says Joseph was a widow with children from a previous marriage.
“And the priest said to Joseph, You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the virgin of the Lord. But Joseph refused, saying: I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel.” - The Protoevangelium of James, Section 9
248 AD: Origen
For if Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus, and yet Jesus says to His mother, "Woman, behold your son," John 19:26 and not "Behold you have this son also," then He virtually said to her, "Lo, this is Jesus, whom you bore." - Commentary on the Gospel of John (Book I), Section 6
But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or "The Book of James", that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honour of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word which said, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you" [Luke 1:35], might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity. - Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book X), Section 17
354 AD: Hilary of Poitiers
If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary's sons and not those taken from Joseph's former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the passion [crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, 'Woman, behold your son,' and to John, 'Behold your mother' [John 19:26-27], as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate - Commentary on Matthew verse 1:4, page 45-46
360 AD: Athanasius
Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His Essence, deny also that He took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin - Discourse 2 Against the Arians, Section 70
373 AD: Ephrem
Because there are those who dare to say that Mary cohabited with Joseph after she bore the Redeemer, we reply, 'How would it have been possible for her who was the home of the indwelling of the Spirit, whom the divine power overshadowed, that she be joined by a mortal being, and gave birth filled with birthpangs, in the image of the primeval curse?' If Mary was blessed of women, she would have been exempt from the curse from the beginning, and from the bearing of children in birthpangs and curses. It would be impossible therefore to call one who gave birth with these birthpangs blessed. - Commentary on Tatian's Diatessaron
~375 AD: Basil of Caesarea
For "he did not know her" - it says - "until she gave birth to a Son, her firstborn" (Mt 1:25). But this could make one suppose that Mary, after having offered in all purity her own service in giving birth to the Lord, by virtue of the intervention of the Holy Spirit, did not subsequently refrain from normal conjugal relations. That would not have affected the teaching of our religion at all, because Mary's virginity was necessary until the service of the Incarnation, and what happened afterward need not be investigated in order to affect the doctrine of the mystery. But since the lovers of Christ do not allow themselves to hear that the Mother of God ceased at a given moment to be a virgin, we consider their testimony to be sufficient. - Homily: On the holy generation of Christ
375 AD: Epiphanius
For I have heard from someone that certain persons are venturing to say that [Mary] had marital relations after the Savior’s birth. And I am not surprised. The ignorance of persons who do not know the sacred scriptures well and have not consulted histories, always turn them to one thing after another, and distracts anyone who wants to track down something about the truth out of his own head. To begin with, when the Virgin was entrusted to Joseph - lots having compelled her to take this step - she was not entrusted to him for marriage, since he was a widower. He was called her husband because of the Law, but it plainly follows from the Jewish tradition that the Virgin was not entrusted to him for matrimony. - The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: De fide. Books II and III, page 620, 7.1
383 AD: Jerome
In his letter The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary: Against Helvidius, Jerome gives an extensive biblical argument that the ‘adelphos’ of Christ, commonly rendered as brothers, are his cousins (sons of Mary of Clopas, who is Jesus’ aunt). Also gives many counterexamples against Helvidius’ proposed Matthew 1:25 interpretation.
It is clear, says [Helvidius], that she was known after she brought forth, and that that knowledge was only delayed by her engendering a son. To defend his position he piles up text upon text, waves his sword like a blind-folded gladiator, rattles his noisy tongue, and ends with wounding no one but himself. - The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary: Against Helvidius, section 5
386 AD: Didymus the Blind
It helps us to understand the terms 'first-born' and 'only-begotten' when the Evangelist tells that Mary remained a virgin 'until she brought forth her first-born son' [Matt. 1:25]; for neither did Mary, who is to be honored and praised above all others, marry anyone else, nor did she ever become the Mother of anyone else, but even after childbirth she remained always and forever an immaculate virgin - The Trinity 3:4
388 AD: Ambrose of Milan
Citing the prophecy in Ezekiel 44:1-2, Ambrose links it to Mary:
Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, facing the east; but it was closed. He said to me: 'This gate is to remain closed; it is not to be opened for anyone to enter by it; since the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it, it shall remain closed'... Who is this gate, if not Mary? Is it not closed because she is a virgin? Mary is the gate through which Christ entered this world, when he was brought forth in the virginal birth and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity... There is a gate of the womb, although it is not always closed; indeed only one was able to remain closed, that through which the One born of the Virgin came forth without the loss of genital intactness. - De institutione virginum 8.52
Imitate her [Mary], holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of material virtue; for neither have you sweeter children [than Jesus], nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son - Letter 63, Section 111
401 AD: Augustine
It was not the visible sun, but its invisible Creator who consecrated this day for us, when the Virgin Mother, fertile of womb and integral in her virginity, brought him forth, made visible for us, by whom, when he was invisible, she too was created. A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man? - Sermons 186
Thus Christ by being born of a virgin, who, before she knew Who was to be born of her, had determined to continue a virgin, chose rather to approve, than to command, holy virginity. And thus, even in the female herself, in whom He took the form of a servant, He willed that virginity should be free. - Of Holy Virginity, Section 4
Those heretics were called Antidicomarites who denied the virginity of Mary to the point that they claim that after the birth of Christ she had intercourse with her husband. - Heresies LVI
426 AD: Leporius
We confess, therefore, that our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, born of the Father before the ages, and in times most recent, made man of the Holy Spirit and the ever-virgin Mary - Document of Amendment 3
430 AD: Cyril of Alexandria
[T]he Word himself, coming into the Blessed Virgin herself, assumed for himself his own temple from the substance of the Virgin and came forth from her a man in all that could be externally discerned, while interiorly he was true God. Therefore he kept his Mother a virgin even after her childbearing - Against Those Who Do Not Wish to Confess That the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God 4
~440 AD: Peter Chrysologus
Where are they who think that the Virgin’s conceiving and the Virgin’s giving birth are like those of other women... A Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remains. - The Fathers of the Church, A New Translation, Vol. 17, Sermon 117 “The First Adam, and the Last Adam, Born of a Virgin” p.199
450 AD: Pope Leo I
Leo the Great was bishop of Rome, best known for meeting Attila the Hun and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy.
His [Christ’s] origin is different, but his [human] nature is the same. Human usage and custom were lacking, but by divine power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and Virgin she remained - Sermons 22:2
553 AD: Second Council of Constantinople
If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her: let him be anathema. - Second Council of Constantinople, The Capitula of the Council, #2
649 AD: Lateran Council
If anyone does not in accord with the Holy Fathers acknowledge the holy and ever virgin and immaculate Mary was really and truly the Mother of God, inasmuch as she, in the fullness of time, and without seed, conceived by the Holy Spirit, God in the Word Himself, who before all time was born of God the Father, and without loss of integrity brought Him forth, and after His birth preserved her virginity inviolate, let him be condemned. - Lateran Council, Oct, 649, DS 503.
749 AD: John Damascene
And just as He that was conceived kept her that conceived a Virgin still, He that was born kept her virginity intact, only passing through her and keeping her closed. The conception was through the sense of hearing; but the birth was through the usual channel by which children come, even if some do prattle of His birth being through the side of the Mother of God. Certainly it was not impossible for Him to come by this gate without injuring its seal in any way. Thus the Ever-Virgin remains after birth a Virgin still, never having consorted with man until death. ... For how were it possible that she, who had borne God, and had come to know that miracle from her experience of subsequent events, should receive the embrace of a man? Perish the thought! - The Source of Knowledge, 3, 4, 14
~1270 AD: Thomas Aquinas
Without any hesitation we must abhor the error of Helvidius, who dared to assert that Christ's Mother, after His Birth, was carnally known by Joseph, and bore other children. For, in the first place, this is derogatory to Christ's perfection: for as He is in His Godhead the Only-Begotten of the Father, being thus His Son in every respect perfect, so it was becoming that He should be the Only-begotten son of His Mother, as being her perfect offspring. Secondly, this error is an insult to the Holy Ghost, whose "shrine" was the virginal womb ["Sacrarium Spiritus Sancti" (Office of B. M. V., Ant. ad Benedictus, T. P.), wherein He had formed the flesh of Christ: wherefore it was unbecoming that it should be desecrated by intercourse with man. Thirdly, this is derogatory to the dignity and holiness of God's Mother: for thus she would seem to be most ungrateful, were she not content with such a Son; and were she, of her own accord, by carnal intercourse to forfeit that virginity which had been miraculously preserved in her. Fourthly, it would be tantamount to an imputation of extreme presumption in Joseph, to assume that he attempted to violate her whom by the angel's revelation he knew to have conceived by the Holy Ghost. We must therefore simply assert that the Mother of God, as she was a virgin in conceiving Him and a virgin in giving Him birth, did she remain a virgin ever afterwards. - Summa Theologiae, Third Part, Question 28, Article 3
1522 AD: Zwingli, Protestant
I have never thought, still less taught, or declared publicly, anything concerning the subject of the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our salvation, which could be considered dishonourable, impious, unworthy or evil . . . I believe with all my heart according to the word of holy gospel that this pure virgin bore for us the Son of God and that she remained, in the birth and after it, a pure and unsullied virgin, for eternity. - A sermon entitled “Mary, ever virgin, mother of God”
1539 AD: Martin Luther, Protestant
Scripture does not say or indicate that she later lost her virginity... When Matthew [1:25] says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; - That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew
Christ... was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him... I am inclined to agree with those who declare that 'brothers' really mean 'cousins' here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. - Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4
Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb... This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. - Sermons on John, chaps. 1-4)
1562 AD: John Calvin, Protestant
Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ's 'brothers' are sometimes mentioned. - Commentary on Mark, Chapter 6, Verse 3
Under the word 'brethren' the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity. - John Calvin's Bible Commentaries On The Gospel Of John, 1-11, specifically John 7:3 (page 201)
[On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband... No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words... as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin... What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us... No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation. - Works, Volume 31, Harmony of the Evangelists #25 (page 107)
1749 AD: John Wesley, Protestant
I believe that He [Jesus] was made man, joining the human nature with the divine in one person; being conceived by the singular operation of the Holy Ghost, and born of the blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought Him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin. - Letter to a Roman Catholic, DUBLIN July 18, 1749
Appendix, historical belief AGAINST Perpetual Virginity of Mary
209 AD: Tertullian
Said Mary was a virgin before the birth of Christ, but the act of giving birth caused her to cease to be a virgin.
...although she was a virgin when she conceived, she was a wife when she brought forth her son - On the Flesh of Christ, Chapter 23
~360 AD: Eunomius of Cyzicus, Arian heretic
[Secondary Source] Therefore he said, "But he knew her not until she had given birth to a son." He knew who she was after his birth. From this statement, some people, following Eunomius, think that until Mary gave birth Joseph did not have carnal relations with her, but afterwards he knew her and she gave birth to children. - Incomplete Commentary on Matthew (Opus Imperfectum), on Matthew 1:25 (~400 AD)
~383 AD: Helvidius
None of his works survived, but his teachings are preserved in Jerome’s letter against him.
From Jerome’s letter, we find that Helvidius believed the brothers/sisters of the Lord, mentioned in the Bible, must be sons of Mary. Helvidius uses all the common modern arguments (e.g. Matthew 1:25), and supports his opinion by the writings of Tertullian and Victorinus.
390 AD: Jovinianus, heretic
[Secondary Source] He calls the Catholics Manicheans, after the manner of that Jovinian who a few years ago, as a new heretic, destroyed the virginity of the blessed Mary, and placed the marriage of the faithful on the same level with her sacred virginity. - Augustine, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians (Book I), Chapter 4
391 AD: Bonosus, heretic
[Secondary Source] Your Reverence was perfectly justified in rebuking him [i.e. Bonosus] on the score of Mary's children, and you had good reason to be horrified at the thought that another birth might issue from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born according to the flesh. For the Lord Jesus would never have chosen to be born of a virgin if He had ever judged that she would be so incontinent as to contaminate with the seed of human intercourse the birthplace of the Lord's body, that court of the Eternal King. - A letter written by Ambrose(?) after Bonosus was condemned by the bishops of Illyricum
- Cited from GotQuestions.org, "Why did Jesus entrust Mary to the apostle John instead of to His brothers?"
- [Hegesippus' lost Commentaries book 5, quoted by Jerome in his book "On Illustrious Men", Section 2] After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved or anointed himself with ointment or bathed. He alone had the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since indeed he did not use woolen vestments but linen and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels' knees. [Note: Since only the high priest of the temple can enter the Holy of Holies once a year on Yom Kippur, this quote seems to indicate James was considered a high priest.]
- [Antiquities of the Jews, Book XX, Chapter 9, Section 1] So he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned...
- Jerome, The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary: Against Helvidius; Fragments of Papias, Section X
- The MacArthur Bible Commentary, Matthew 10:3. Also sermon on May 24, 1981 entitled [Master's Men Part 4: James the Son of Alphaeus]
- Jerome, The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary: Against Helvidius; Fragments of Papias, Section X